On a cool summer’s night, we dined with two other couples at the welcoming Upstairs Bistro. Reservations were made ahead of time which was a great idea for a bustling Friday evening. The outside deck was full by the time we were well into our meal.
The New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua offers a lot of activities including a hands on kitchen, educational classroom, tasting room, private dining room, boutique and restaurant all under one roof. The bistro and bar are located upstairs in this airy contemporary post and beam style building. We unanimously chose to dine outside on their second story deck and take in the refreshing view of Canandiagua Lake looking south.
The wait staff need to be commended for their patience and organization. Getting six talkative people to settle down and pick out drinks, starters, and dinner was not an easy feat. Nevertheless, we started out with the local artisan meat and cheese board and the house made sausage to accompany our chosen wine and beer. There were so many choices on the meat and cheese board, it was a feast for the eyes and more. House made sausage practically melted in your mouth with just the right amount of spices and a nice accompaniment of wilted greens.
Our chosen dinners were beautifully presented on white plates. However, it was easy to ruin these masterpieces as they all beaconed to be devoured. David had the roasted duck breast with fava beans and greens, chorizo and sun-dried tomatoes. The Cabernet Franc, which the server graciously found a glass of even though it was sold by the bottle, complemented the dish well. I chose the catch of the day, a pan seared sea bass with carrot puree, potatoes and honey lavender vinaigrette. The chef was most generous in the fish portion, which was a welcome gift, as the fish was perfectly crispy outside and moist inside. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Dry Rosé was a sound choice to pair with this dish.
In hindsight, we need to point out how helpful the menu listings were. Items were tagged with different logos indicating a locally produced product, gluten free, vegetarian, and for sale at the culinary boutique. The head chef is to be commended on the efforts taken to accommodate the needs of different diners. I felt comfortable inquiring on my dairy and gluten intolerances and they were easily taken care of.
The beer, wine and spirit menu was quite impressive with all of them sourced in New York State. We found some Long Island and Hudson Valley wine listings interesting and worthy of future inquiry. The diverse collection of draft and bottled beer and cocktails were tough to pass over. And it the Saranac sodas was a great addition for those who prefer a non-alcoholic choice.
Overall, we had a delightful evening with great company, succulent food, and relaxing atmosphere. An ideal day would include a cooking class, followed by a tour of the culinary boutique, wine and beer tasting, and then a relaxing meal at the Upstairs Bistro. Sounds like a great birthday gift!